After death occurs, it's important to determine what assets are in existence and where they're located. It's also important to determine whether the deceased left a will or trust. If there's a will, it will need to be probated. 'Probate' is a court proceeding in which the court verifies that the will is genuine, confirms debts have been satisfied, and distributes property to heirs according to the terms of the will. Probating the will normally takes six months to one year, unless the estate requires the sale of property or other complications. Then probate can take additional time. If the deceased has a trust rather than a will, there will be no probate proceeding in court. However, titles to real and personal property need to be transferred according to the terms of the trust. It's particularly important that title to real property be transferred properly and that any claims for exemption from property tax increases be presented to the county. Failure to do so may result in higher property taxes or a 'cloud on title' to the real property. For more information about how to probate a will or transfer property pursuant to a trust after death, please contact an attorney.